Kola Kafferty sprinted toward the ferry terminal and cringed as a large gust of fog infused with light rain barreled toward her.
Drizzle was not Kola's friend. It was like kryptonite to her chemically straightened hair. In fact, If she didn't get inside asap she would be walking around town looking like an African-American pony-tailed troll doll that had been playing in the wind too long.
Kola quickly entered the passenger waiting area and took a seat. Once inside she instinctively pulled up the collar of her oatmeal-colored trench coat, and stuck her lavender-mitted hands into her coat pockets. It had to be 45 degrees outside; the perfect weather for hot cocoa.
Despite the dreary weather, Kola was excited about her outfit of the day: a teal corduroy jumper dress, a lavender turtleneck, lavender fishnets and teal leather ankle-boots.
Kola stood up and made a beeline for the terminal restroom. She wanted to make sure that not a strand of her lavender-tinted ponytail was out of place and that her makeup was flawless.
After touching up her ponytail, Kola rummaged through her makeup bag for what felt like centuries. She was on the hunt for her two favorite accessories: her electric teal eye-liner stickers (she couldn't draw a straight cat eye to save her life) and her favorite foundation stick (# 714: Caribbean Honey) that she used to minimize her flaws.
Kola let out a loud "Yessss!" when she found her favorite beauty tools. After applying her eyeliner, Kola took special care in applying her Foundation. Besides a ½ teaspoon of freckles divinely sprinkled along the apples of her cheeks, she also had a medium-sized birthmark shaped like the continent of Africa on her right cheek that needed covering up as well.
Kola hated her chocolate-brown birthmark. In her mind, it looked like a large splotch of dirt had landed on her cheek and she felt as if the dark mark ruined her beautiful honey-brown complexion.
Kola had always been self-conscious about her birthmark, therefore even after four months of dating her boyfriend Winston, he still hadn't seen her without her trusty cover-up or lipstick for that matter. Kola knew every dude wanted a glamour girl, not a rag doll.
Upon finishing her mini glamour session, Kola exited the restroom, and confidently strolled through the terminal lobby like a pageant queen on a press tour, then took a seat on a wooden bench next to a middle-aged Caucasian little person speaking on his cellphone in French.
Kola was in no mood to share her space therefore she hurriedly scooted to the other end of the bench and began texting Winston about his whereabouts.
Her text read: Win, where r u? Our ferry will be leaving soon. We can't miss Little Troy's graduation! Stop your lollygagging! Hurry!
Nearly fifteen minutes later, Winston Sims raced through the terminal door with his Hunter University ID in hand. Kola ran to embrace him, planting a quick kiss on his lips in the process.
"I'm so glad that you made it, babe!" Kola squealed with delight.
"I told ya I'd make it on time! I know what I'm doing," Winston said smugly as he gently tugged on the end of Kola's ponytail.
"Win, I was freaking out sitting next to Mr. Leprechaun over there," Kola whispered with a mischievous grin as she pointed at the little person sitting on a bench about ten feet from where she and Winston were standing.
"Doesn't he just make you want to crack open a box of Lucky Charms?" Winston asked with a chuckle. He then pretended to ravenously eat cereal from an invisible bowl to further illustrate his point.
"He sure does," Kola said with a giggle as she gingerly took her mittens off, and tossed them into her shoulder bag.
"Why is he speaking French? I thought that leprechauns only spoke Irish!" Winston said in a loud whisper.
"I swear I need my own comedy tour Ko! I think I'm tight enough to be a comedian! What do you think?" Winston asked earnestly, his dimples making their first appearance of the evening as he spoke, like two groundhog twins peeking from underground at the same time to let the community know that there would be six more weeks of winter.
"Win, you're too much! Of course you've got what it takes!" Kola proudly exclaimed as she doubled over in laughter, dropping her cell phone to the ground in the process.
The thud of her cell phone reminded Kola that it was almost time to board the ferry. Kola's heart swelled with pride as she thought about seeing her little brother accept his high school diploma in just a mere 80 minutes.
"Win, our ferry leaves soon. I think we'd better go pay," Kola said excitedly as she picked up her phone off of the carpet.
"You're right Ko, let's go!" Winston said merrily as he reached into his back pocket for his wallet.
"What's wrong Win?" Kola said with concern as she saw Winston freeze in his tracks.
"My wallet's not here," Winston replied in a worried tone.
Winston frantically searched each of his blue jean pockets, as well as both of the side pockets of the black leather jacket that he was wearing, but his search turned up empty.
"Bzzz! Bzzz! Bzzz! Bzzz!"
The ferry departure bell rang loudly, effectively interrupting Kola and Winston's anxious thoughts in the process.
An African-American Octogenarian (resembling Red Foxx) with a velvet radio voice, suddenly said through a loudspeaker: "Up next, our most popular ferry: The Elegant Fox Trot will be leaving in approximately 17 minutes. Please pay at the ticket booth in the left corner and don't forget to hang on to your receipt. You will need it to board the Ferry. Then, please head through the red door marked: DISEMBARKMENT AREA on your right. A staff member will be waiting on the other side of the door to scan your receipt and escort you onboard. A courtesy bell will ring out again at the 5-minute departure mark. Get ready for a wonderful adventure my friends!"
"Dang, I must have left my wallet in the Lyft. I remember having it in my hand when I got in," Winston said anxiously as he bit his already non-existent thumbnail.
"Do you have any extra money with you, Ko?" Winston asked in desperation as he subconsciously twisted his New York Yankees cap from the front of his bald, chocolate-brown head to the back.
"Nope. My dad doesn't deposit any more money onto my Cash App until Monday. I only have a ten-dollar bill for my ferry ride. I wasn't too worried about being low on funds because dad always picks up everyone's dinner tab, especially on special occasions, and he'd already promised that he would pay for everyone's return ferry trip," Kola admitted sheepishly.
"This couldn't have happened at a worse time! We can't miss Troy's ceremony Win! What are we going to do babe?" Kola asked, as tears welled up in her eyes.
"I have a solution to your dilemma," a gravelly male voice interjected.
Winston and Kola turned around to see the little person that they had made fun of earlier.
"That is if you will accept money from a Leprechaun," the man added sarcastically as he stoically walked toward Winston and handed him a twenty-dollar bill.
Winston and Kola's mouths dropped open in astonishment as shame quickly crept across their youthful, brown faces.
"That should cover your fare. Don't worry about the other ten, just pass it on to someone else in need," the mysterious stranger replied curtly.
"Man, I'm so sorry for all of the...the…those things that we said about you! You know what the old folks say: TikTok is corrupting today's youth," Winston said with a smirk, his voice trailing off.
"Win, this is no time to joke," Kola said as she elbowed Winston in the ribs hard.
"What my boyfriend was trying to say is that we apologize for and are ashamed of our callousness. Please forgive us," Kola said humbly.
"Sorry sir. I've never been good at apologies. My girlfriend summed it up best," Winston said with sincerity.
"Apology accepted. But, be careful with your words. Words are powerful enough to change a person's course in life. And frankly, your next "comedic muse" may not be as tolerant or forgiving as I. Remember everybody deserves the same respect. Unfortunately, Little People are often treated as "curious anomalies" rather than ordinary, accomplished people. Society has got to remember that we Little Folk don't speak Oompa Loompa nor do we work for Snow White or The Lollipop Guild. We are not caricatures nor are we here to entertain the average-sized masses. We are part of the human race just like everyone else," the small man said intensely, his icy blue eyes breakdancing with anger as he spoke.
"Kids, please do me a favor. I really want you two to think about why you immediately saw me as a Leprechaun when you first laid eyes on me instead of the Juvenile Court Judge that I truly am. My name is Judge Daniel Wyatt and I'd like to give you both some important homework," Judge Wyatt said with intensity.
"Uh...Okay," Winston said apprehensively as he blew a large bubble with his Sweet-N-Spice gum.
"Sure," Kola added as she bit her bottom lip in nervous anticipation.
"There is a documentary on Facts~Flix called: LITTLE PEOPLE; BIG BIAS that I would like you both to check out. It brings attention to the plight of little people and shows how we've been treated throughout history in the US. Most importantly, it highlights the discrimination and ridicule that we often face because of our size. The documentary begins in the 1920s with the exploration of several popular traveling-circuses from that era that featured little people. Unfortunately, at the time, little people were often seen as props for entertaining the average-sized, and because of size discrimination, entertainment was often the only employment option for my people back in the day. Next up, in the documentary, cultural scholars explore the historical stereotypes associated with little people. And lastly, disability activists examine and critique modern-day film and television roles for little people in Hollywood," Judge Wyatt said enthusiastically.
"I believe that the documentary will give you both an idea of where your insensitive jokes and subconscious biases against little people most likely originated from," Judge Wyatt added solemnly.
"And finally my last request is that you both remember this interaction when you are ready to enter the corporate world. It may just keep you from being called into your boss's office for an off-color discriminatory joke one day," Judge Wyatt said cryptically.
Judge Wyatt suddenly turned to Kola and said:"Not all pastries in God's Heavenly Bakery are meant to be the same. Our individual ingredients, namely our gifts and our uniqueness, are what make us beautiful and stand out in the world. And that birthmark on your cheek that you're trying so hard to cover up ties you back to your African ancestors, the ones that successfully made it across the Middle passage to eventually thrive on American soil. You should wear it with pride young lady because your bloodline is resilient," Judge Wyatt concluded with a comforting smile.
"He's right, Kola. Our African roots are very strong and you definitely don't need the cover-up. You're absolutely beautiful without it. I've seen you without it. I saw you without it one morning before class, the week of finals, when you were applying your makeup at the bus stop, and my dad and I were driving past. I'd just like to add one thing to what Judge Wyatt said and that is that from what I've seen in my short nineteen years on this earth our human race as a whole is resilient… just look at those superhero babies from those St. Jude's commercials!" Winston added with a bright smile.
"You're absolutely right about that young man! God is no respecter of persons! He anoints us all, no matter our race, age, or size," Judge Wyatt replied, a smile as wide as the Atlantic Ocean, spreading across his face as he spoke.
Kola touched her cheek with pride, mouthed a thank you to Judge Wyatt, then hugged Winston tightly.
"Alright kids… I'm gonna close down my pulpit for the night! You two had better get going or you'll miss your ferry. God bless!" Judge Wyatt said with a wink as he headed back to the wooden bench that he had originally been sitting on.
"Goodnight!" Kola and Winston responded in unison.
Bzzz Bzzz Bzzz Bzzz!"
The 5-minute warning bell suddenly rang out loudly in the terminal lobby. In response, Winston and Kola picked up their pace, quickly paid their fare, sprinted through the disembarkation door and up the open ferry ramp toward the upcoming celebration.
During their ferry ride, Kola and Winston leisurely drank Diet Colas (Kola's namesake), ate Banana Nut Muffins with cream cheese frosting, and chatted it up about their encounter with Judge Wyatt. They still had a graduation to attend but the golden nuggets of wisdom that they had both received from Judge Wyatt earlier that evening had already made it one night to remember.
About the author
I am a super-spiritual, fun-loving artist, writer, & peer-counselor residing in the Pacific Northwest. I am also an Institute of Children's Literature alumna who enjoys writing about the triumph of the human spirit.